Asrar’s Note: Dear Pharma Veterans! I have created this space for ‘Pharma Veterans’; all of us, not just me. I am filling this space to begin with, in order to keep it moving. You are most cordially invited to write your thoughts/ ideas/ experiences. Please send these to me at asrar@asrarqureshi.com  Your contributions will be published promptly and without editing. Please join the Community and the Movement.

Sheikh Ejaz, District Manager of Lederle, was an outstanding person, distinct from others, in a class of his own. He came from a well-placed family settled in Bahawalpur. He had joined sales profession at an older age, probably at thirty-two. He was well read, head-strong, non-conformist, and rebellious. His expression was refined; he spoke very well and with authority. He had great flair for sales. As manager, he developed his team but gave them a lot of free hand. He took me in his car from Multan to Sahiwal and introduced me around. Next was weekend, and he said he planned to spend the weekend in Lahore and would I be interested in going to Lahore? I said sure, and we hopped on to Lahore. After the weekend, he carried me back to Sahiwal. I left Lederle in two months, but I have very fond memories of Sheikh Ejaz. He passed away few years ago. He was one of a kind. I have met very few people like him.

Rab Nawaz Khan, National Sales Manager of Wyeth, came from Chakwal area. He had risen from med rep to NSM. He was an upright, very hardworking person, and he was feared and respected among the sales team. He was another exemplary, shining star of the Pharma Sales of the time. RNK looked at my resume and asked me about two quick changes. I told him I was still not sure if I wanted to continue in Pharma Sales. He asked what if I left Wyeth also after a short time. I said I could not promise that I would not leave Wyeth. However, I would promise that if I quit Wyeth, I would quit Pharma Sales. Despite this exchange, he selected me. As I worked in Wyeth and got to know more about him, my respect grew enormously about him.

I stayed at Stadium Hotel for the entire time I was in Sahiwal. Salespeople from Multan, Lahore and even Faisalabad came to visit Sahiwal and stayed at this hotel for several days. I got to meet many old Pharma friends. Then Safdar introduced me to Farhat Jamil. He was working for Fisons. We met briefly and then continued meeting. We had some common interests. We read, we were sharp observers and we were non-conformists. Otherwise, we were totally different. He was rebellious and had a knack for making others uneasy with his socially unpopular (and mostly unacceptable) style. But he also had a charm. People hated him initially but then accepted him as he was. FJ and I spent long times together. We are friends since then, and we have stood by each other. FJ migrated to Canada with his family many years ago and is settled there. I and my wife also considered immigration to Canada around that time. We calculated our score. We were both eligible as ‘Principal Immigrant’. And immigration was granted relatively early in those days. But then we sat down and faced the question ‘Should we leave Pakistan and settle elsewhere?’. After analysis, our answer was negative, and we did not pursue further.

I met Siddique in Sahiwal. He was working at Dr. Sarfaraz’s clinic, whom I visited frequently, owing to his importance. Siddique told me about his love for music and we talked. He invited me to his home. He had a big collection of old records and he had a gramophone machine which could take ten records at a time. On some weekends, he would invite me to his home. We would sit in his music room, choose records and played, smoke and drink tea. It was a wonderful retreat. I am very thankful to Siddique and wish him well. I tried to trace him in later years but could not.

Hamid Ali Baig was a participant in a training in Karachi. He hailed from Karachi. He took me to his home in Bahadurabad and I met his family and some of his friends. They were a very nice family and they welcomed me warmly. During the training, I visited his house several times in the evening.  We all were night owls and considered it very impolite to sleep early. One day, we walked to another house. It was a moonlit night and on the roof top a guy was playing guitar and singing. Others were listening, and smoking hashish. Smoking hashish (charas) was fashionable among youngsters at that time. The singer was Ali Haider who became hugely popular later. While we were leaving, a guy offered me a lump of hashish. I said I only smoked regular cigarette, ‘so thank you very much, I don’t need it’. He was already high, and he said, ‘you are my brother and you have to keep it’. So, I kept it till I found a more eligible person to hand it over to.

People Talk shall continue in between. In fact, I plan to do detailed profiles of many Pharma Veterans. Do wish me well……

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